Japan’s birth rate has fallen to a dangerous record low

Written By Mark

The Japanese Ministry of Health said on Wednesday that the birth rate has fallen to a “dangerous” record level for the eighth year in a row, as the government seeks to increase support provided to parents.

The ministry published data showing that birth rates in Japan, that is, the average number of children a woman is expected to give birth to during her lifetime, reached 1.2 last year, which is much lower than the rate of 2.1 necessary for population reproduction.

The rate decreased compared to the number recorded in 2022, which is 1.26, for the eighth year in a row of a decline in the rate in the country, which has a population of 124 million.

An official at the Ministry of Health in charge of data told Agence France-Presse, “The continued decline in the birth rate means that we are facing a dangerous situation.”

She added that “various factors such as economic instability and difficulty balancing work and raising children” may be behind the low rates.

The decline in births is a common pattern in developed countries, and the rate in Japan still exceeds that of neighboring South Korea, which records the lowest birth rate in the world, which is 0.72.

But with the world’s largest population of centenarians after Monaco, Japan is scrambling to find ways to encourage a baby boom and avert a looming demographic crisis.

On Wednesday, Parliament approved legal amendments to provide more financial support to fathers, improve access to child care services and increase paternity leave benefits.

This is the latest government effort to increase the birth rate, an issue that Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has highlighted as a pressing threat to Japanese society.